Obama’s World Tour

A presidential mission to bridge the global divide

At last week’s G20, Obama took a different tack. He spoke of a collective effort among world leaders to fix the global economy. Initially, it was reported that European leaders such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, both of whom were incensed by the lax regulation of America’s financial community, would bolt from the proceedings. But that didn’t happen.

For one, Obama’s popularity among their constituencies helped bolster their standing. Although he wasn’t able to gain a greater commitment by attendees to use fiscal stimulus as a remedy, the president managed to receive a pledge of $1.1 trillion for those countries most badly battered by the economic downturn.

It wasn’t the “global new deal” that he and the conference host, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, had hoped for but many observers said they made substantive progress with the development of a communiqué that called for, among other initiatives, the IMF to provide more financial support to developing nations and heavier regulation of international finance. In bringing these diverse nations together, Obama continued to call for patience and persistence – a common theme in his domestic message. In contrasting today’s international complexities to the resolution of global issues some 68 years ago, he told the press: “If there’s just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy, that’s an easier negotiation. That’s not the world we live in … and it shouldn’t be.”

In fact, the week-long Obama Tour gave Americans a view into the difficulties of navigating this interdependent, complicated world. When the commander-in-chief attended the NATO Summit in Strasbourg, France – an event that commemorated the military alliance’s 60th anniversary – he gained 5,000 more troops and trainers for the war in Afghanistan. However, the deployment pales in size next to 21,000 additional troops that the administration has pledged in its fight against the resurgent Taliban.

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